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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Strangers

My brother and sister-in-law's friends are with us for a few days of our trip. They are super laid back and very sweet. I was worried that our crazies would ruin their trip. So far we've been able to avoid the majority of the crazies by 1)feeding the kids often 2) saying yes to things we normally say no to (like Coke instead of Sprite- not having to eat everything in order to have dessert) 3) dividing and conquering (the kids have pretty much been separated by at least two adults between them at all times 4) lots of hand holding 5) extra observant parenting.

The kids have latched on to these new people though. Wanting to sit next to them, ride with them, asking them questions. And of course the super sweet people they are they are allowing the kids those requests.

But Jelly Bean is starting to push the limits. Trying to see if she can get me irritated in front of the new people. Testing to make sure those boundaries we have set for her are still in place. And because she is adorable and funny and sweet when I make the tone in my voice mean business and the friends look at me like I'm way too serious about silly things like sweatshirts and where she is sitting at a table I start to question myself. Am I too harsh? Should I ease up? Let it go?

And then I remember - attachment. She's fantastic at getting others to do things for her because her parents did not. But I'm a safe protective parent and I can't let the boundaries lax. For her I have to be serious in front of others.

And I'll have to do it without explaining to these kind people the horrific things people have done to this little girl. That's my job. Meanest Mom on the planet...

Monday, May 28, 2012

Meltdowns in Mexico on Memorial Day

We got up early and hit EPCOT at opening this morning. We got to spend the day with my brother a retired Army Veteran and an Active Duty Signal Corp member who just moved back stateside 2 weeks ago. Memorial day had become more significant for me as I now understand what it's like to hold your breath anytime the news comes on and talks of troops lost.

We went back an did some of the countries we missed yesterday. Mexico was our first stop. Little Mama copped an attitude the minute we got in there. Gabby wanted to get her Mom something and LM just couldn't handle it. At one point she came to me crying and asked me I she could please leave the building.

I thought for sure that it reminded her too much of the Mexican Mart and her Mom and she was missing her. I was totally unprepared for what actually came out of her mouth when we got outside.

LM freezes a lot. She'll cry and then not say anything. This is hard for me because I can't stand the silence. But I have learned to shut my mouth and let her talk. I asked her if she needed a hug. She grabbed me and sobbed. I whispered- you are safe. You are loved.

Finally, she looked up at me and said:

"I want to stay with you. I don't want to go home to my Mom. I am afraid she won't take care of us."

And the words I longed to hear, that I never thought I'd hear, broke my heart. My poor kid couldn't enjoy Disney World because of foster care. On her summer vacation she was worried about being taken care of by a parent instead of if she could get ice cream. She was fearful of having someone meet her needs instead of being scared on a roller coaster.

But that's foster care.

So I stood outside the Mexico pavilion rocking my almost 12 year old telling her that it's ok and reminding her that if that is truly how she feel she needs to start telling people this. Telling her I will always love her and try to keep her safe no matter where she lives - all while my heart was breaking for her. I wanted nothing more than to promise to Always take care of her - but thats not up to me...

We hugged she felt better. I felt worse and we moved on. We spent a nice evening in the pool and when I agreed to jacuzzi bubble baths I was cheered for being "the best Mom I ever had.." the bar isn't set real high but it made me feel good.

Here they are in Mexico shortly before the meltdown.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Epcot

So we had a pretty good day all around. Had some time in the pool this morning. Then we headed to the World Showcase at EPCOT and had a pretty good day.

But foster care crept in. LM caught me alone and told me she missed her Mom. it's hard for her to have fun with my family and not feel guilty.

We are waiting for Illuminations and starting to get a little tired. We ate dinner in Norway with the Princesses and had a nice time. Here is a picture of the girls. They were dancing and goofing around just a few seconds before. So much fun a cast member stopped to watch.

Meltdown #3

I can't remember what caused meltdown #1 but it was sometime around noon. Things we going ok until we went to the pool this afternoon and Jelly Bean begged Hubby to help her learn to swim better.

Can we say trigger? Trusting someone with your safety, a man with his hands on your bare skin. Let's jut say she was the only kid crying in the pool area.

And I'm pretty sure she was the only kid crying near the Dole Whips in Adventure Land. She was not getting one of course because after Dad and I told her to sit down and yes she was getting ice cream a total of 6 times between us we were done. We put the consequence out there- ask me again and the answer will be no - and she has to ask....

Thursday, May 24, 2012

It came back to bite me...

Of course it did. I put it out there that we were having a good day and then hoped and prayed that family therapy would be non-eventful. Not so much.

Family Therapist decided that the day before our road trip to Orlando would be the opportune time to give Gabby the letters from her Dad in jail. You know the letters the team had said she shouldn't know about for a while because she already has so many issues to work out with Mom and her anxiety is high enough. The letters Mom decided to relay to her in a message about having a surprise for her from her Dad.

And while this was happening Mom was left alone with the other kids. Did we not learn the first time that this shouldn't be happening since that's how the issue began in the first place.

The CASA's response? Remember kids are resilient. An with that my Hope that the kids will actually have an advocate working to protect them went right out the window.

It's never a good sign when the kids therapists email you and tell you you got the short end of the stick- again.

You'd think we'd be used to it by now....

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Last Day of School

We made it! An entire school year. I am now the parent of a Kindergartener, Third grader, Fifth grader, and Seventh grader. Yikes. Totally unprepared for 3 tween girls. The discussion about cell phones is happening.

Last night Gabby asked me how many bras she should pack and Hubby mouthed "she wears bras?" Lol. Clearly he is not ready either.

We even managed to get to today without too many behavior issues. Although that being said, today is see CASA and family therapy with Mom so that might change. Closing in on less than 24 hours to vacation departure. Mickey here we come!

Am I in Trouble?

We've had some inappropriate touching in house recently.  In most homes it would be a harmless thing between siblings. A way to aggravate each other. Funny even.

But in a home with a sexual abuse history its a red flag.   Its a concern. It requires closer supervision.

Jelly Bean has been touching Gabby's bottom when Gabby is standing near her or going up the stairs.  Last week when we tried to discuss it with the therapists she turned on the rage and denied knowing what we were talking about. She took a time out, calmed down and we went over the rules of keeping your hands to yourself, asking before you touch people (even if a good touch) and treating people how you want to be treated. 

It happened again today at day care.  So tonight when we called her downstairs she asked, "Am I in trouble?"

"Do you do something that you would be in trouble for?"

Pause

Mom and Dad patiently waiting.

Pause

Mom and Dad patiently waiting.

"Touching Gabby again?"

Again.

There it was.  She admitted that it happened before.

The fact that it was sop public makes us believe that this is really to annoy her sister rather than perpetrate but we have to be watchful.

Monday, May 21, 2012

So it may not be selective hearing

Mr. Mohawk was tested for ESL support today. He starts kindergarten in the fall and because I want to make sure all possible avenues of support are in place should he return home I checked the boxes for being raised in a Spanish speaking home.

It is true he was there until almost 3. But the kid sometimes speaks better English than his 6th grade sister so I thought he might test out.

He nearly did. The issue was with comprehending commands. Since this is a kid who has no problem tuning out his raging sister and not listening this did not surprise me. So maybe by January he'll learn how to follow directions!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

One Post for the Weekend

So yesterday I drove all around the planet and when we finally got home I was too exhausted to write. I was in bed by 10:30pm. That of course meant that at 6:30am I was wide awake. I hate that. I miss the days of sleeping in on the weekends...

We had a full day Saturday. The kids had their visits, Gabby has to go to the doctor for an ear infection, Gabby and Jelly bean has a psychiatrist appointment and then we headed to the outlet mall to get some things for our trip.

While at the visit Little Mama called me from her Mom's cell phone. Of course she used my real number and not the Google Voice number I set up (because I didn't tell the kids about the Google Voice number). It was odd.

"Hi Mom! We are having so much fun."

Ok?!!? "Good. Glad to hear it but you really need to get back to your visit with your Mom."

So when she got home we asked her what happened. And she actually told me. The kid who avoids and can stay silent actually spilled! Her and Gabby were fighting. They didn't feel Mom was handling it right. They were upset. She just wanted me help but then couldn't ask for it in front of her Mom.

This led to a tearful conversation about the fear about Mom not getting to the reunification goal. Apparently, Mom also mentioned to them that if they do get adopted she would be happy to have us be the adoptive family because she would still be in their life. She also told them that if they go home we will still get to see them.

I'm glad she is reinforcing the support system we are setting up but I didn't know if the visit is the place to talk about this. Perhaps family therapy with the guidance of the therapist would be better. I don't know maybe I'm just annoyed that I had two kids in tears after just 2 hours.

She covered a lot of ground in the two hour visit because she also managed to tell them that they will no longer be seeing their trauma therapist.

This is where she loses the battle. Not understanding that there are ways and times to discuss things. Their therapist should be the one to approach this with them. It created mistrust between me and the kids because I didn't tell them - and now they are wondering what else I know that they don't.

I don't know what she was trying to accomplish by telling them. If it was to show she's interested and included or because she hates that therapist or if she was trying to undermine me. It confuses me. I guess this will be worked on in family therapy but this is 2 weeks in a row where Mom brought up information that the kids really shouldn't have been told.

I have more to write about the psychiatrist but that's for another day.

Today we head to my brother's college graduation. I am so excited for the girls to experience this. Ceremony, celebration, tradition. For school.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Locks of Love

My Gabby is a special human being. She's articulate at 10. She loves detail. She's caring and sensitive but also the life of the party. She makes everyone around her better.

She's going to be the kid who comes home and tells me she's going on a mission to save the Panda's...and actually do it.

The last time we were at the hair salon she saw a sticker on the window for Locks of Love. She asked what it was and the stylist told her it's a group that creates wigs from real hair for children battling cancer and other diseases where you loose your hair. That's all she needed to know.

She marched herself in to the salon today and chopped of 10 inches of hair to help someone else. She got this adorable chin length bob now and it suits her perfectly. How proud I am of her for giving something that so many people take for granted. She didn't even bat an eye. There were no tears. Only smiles.

God I love this kid!

Here she is with Jelly Bean who also cut her hair. She was not given a choice as she's had it in her face for the last year. (It was not long enough to donate.)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Trying to balance the fun.

We have one week left of school. Which seems crazy as I remember at the beginning of the year being worried the kids wouldn't finish the whole school year here. Ha!

I must say as the year ends I'm Looking forward to summer. The pressure is off for us and I think we'll have a chance to play more than last year. In a week we will be in Disney World totally immersed in a world where therapy, case workers, CASA, and visits don't exist. Where we will ALL have a chance to go back and reprocess childhood. Where 10 am Mickey Ice Cream bars are mandatory. Where NO ONE knows we are a foster family.

We started easing into vacation mode today. Waiting for therapy to start we headed to the park for a game of lava monster. I got to put my feet in the grass!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wednesdays Post

- one kid had a sick day
- one kid missed therapy again this time on accident. The Transportation supervisor wanted to know how we stop this from happening- Um idk stop making a 6th grader responsible for appointments?
- one kid had a tantrum.
- this Mom yelled.
- this Mom is seriously considering not bringing the tantrumer on vacation.
- this Mom is going to go have a drink.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Rinse. Repeat.

I love this phrase. It's often used by adoptive and foster parents to describe the process of consistent parenting or patterns of behavior. Recently, my kids have been doing a lot of rinsing and repeating of stuff we worked on a year ago. I've been doing a lot of rinsing and repeating with staying calm and responding to their needs.

Parenting hurt kids REQUIRES this type of tedium. We go back and forth back and forth until finally the distance (time) between the back and the forth grows bigger and bigger. Sometimes the amount of stamina you have is equal to the amount of success you have.

And your ability to recognize and relish the smallest of successes also is important. Your kids aren't going to turn to you and say look Mom I'm healed! You have to be able to go- ok that rage lasted only 10 minutes vs 30 we are getting somewhere. Rinse. Repeat.

Monday, May 14, 2012

I don't want you...

Those were the words spoken to me by my sweet Gabby on Mothers day just after she told my Mom that Foster Mom R hates us. Ok maybe it wasn't spoken. More like screamed. Followed by a 40 minute tantrum.

My Mom was super upset and beside herself. My amazing mother has never seen this side of Gabby. My Mom who so desperately wants these kids to be ours was heart broken that the one child who has said "I don't want to go home" seemingly changed her mind.

I forget that while my Mom sees the kids every week and she hears about how they are doing daily isn't living it. She's not obsessively reading blogs, books, and forums to try to decipher, understand, and strategize.

I was actually pretty calm about what she said. Which I think shows how far I've come as Mom. I reminded my Mom that she's a confused little girl who watched the Mom she thought was on "her side" in the "my real Mom is a horrible person" debate treat the real mom with concern and respect. She had also spent the day with a trusting, loving family and that can sometimes throw the kids over the edge.

Then of course my Mom was all upset that she may have made things worse. God love her.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Co-Parenting

So we went to the doctor's appointment.  Gabby, Jelly Bean, Me and their Mom.  And boy did I mess up. I had the wrong appointment time and the doctor had left.  Luckily they could see us next weekend but that messed up some other plans.

At least she saw that I'm not perfect, that was Hubby's take.  (It's the first time I've missed an appointment like this but still....) So I apologized and then decided we could go get a meal together.  We talked. In both Spanish and in English.  She told me she's going to be taking an ESL class. I told her she was off to a great start. I fumbled with my words.  She complimented my ability to write in Spanish.  The kids called us both Mom.  We understood. 

I was not nearly as nervous as I though I would be.  It seemed fine.  Maybe I softened a bit?  Maybe this can work?  Maybe we can become a family?  Ordering our meal I realized how hard it must be to not be able to read a menu.  And while she commented on how in the 6 months she lived in another state she was unable to get a medical card or food stamps for the kids I realized how vast the difference in our lives really is.

We both tried and that's what counts.  There was only one moment that was uncomfortable and it was when Jelly Bean said how fun it would be for her Mom to come to Disney World with us.  There was a pause and I could see the hurt in her face.  I know its a sore subject.  She said so at the meeting.  I said that maybe someday that would be possible. 

I saw a happier woman in front of me.  That made me glad.  She let me in some and I let her in some.  I shared my illness and my depression.  She shared some more of the kid's birth stories and I know that made them happy.  It would have been a perfect afternoon except for the steely silence I got from Little Mama when I got home.  And my fantasy that this will be a smooth, easy transition to co-parenting shattered.

New meaning to one day at a time....

Friday, May 11, 2012

Triggers

We are hitting the trifecta of triggers this weekend.  Visit, Mother's Day, End of the School Year. We are quickly headed towards the big trauma anniversary that is the end of June.  You can feel the nervous energy the kids are emmitting.  You can feel the stress in the nature of the bickering and poor choices and the tattling. Oh.My.Word.The Tattling.

And Mom has to get good at remembering to out crazy the crazy and fast.

If you had driven by the day care about 6:15 you would have seen my kids "shaking" the attitudes out of their systems before getting in the car. Wiggling their little tooshies until I saw the smiles. Only then could they get in the car. Interestingly enough, Jelly Bean was the first to crack.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I Hugged My Kids' Mom Today

Yep.I.Actually.Did.

It wasn't an easy morning and about 5 minutes after I hugged her I was in tears in my car.  Sometimes the emotions are just overwhelming.

We sat in this meeting and agreed to attempt to co-parent.  Ahh. co-parenting the en vogue trend in foster care and divorced couples. In our state if you file for divorce you have to go to a co-parenting class.  They don't exactly have a class like this in foster care. We have training on how to work as part of a team and the idea of working to help the family is drilled into your head but there is no "How to Co-parent With Your Foster Kid's Mother" class. There is no class for the birth parent where they get told "let the foster family help you that's their job".  In fact, the system is set up to pit both sides against the other.  Foster parents are charged with protecting and advocating, and birth parents are fighting to get their kids back. Then they throw something at you like co-parenting and you are like "What the heck?" I'm supposed to be supportive but that doesn't mean I'm going to be working on the plan too. I have enough on my plate.

And this is where it gets tough.  Having to rise above and live out what you say you are doing:

The best thing for the kids.

And this means different things to different people.  Is it best for them to be in a stable home with a big support system and resources to meet all of their needs? Or is it better to stay with their biological family, immersed in a beautiful culture and never question why their Mother couldn't parent them?

What if they can have both?

And then someone says to you - Can you help the kids not feel so divided and work with their Mom?

What are you going to say?

Its one of those moments in life where you are tested.  Are you really the person you like to think you are? Are you really a hypocrite? Do you really mean your response to people who tell you how lucky the kids are that you are really the lucky one? Can you put your own fears aside? Can you go do something that makes you really uncomfortable? Can you treat others how you wish to be treated?

And there it was. All on the table.  Do you love these kids so much that you can be the adult, the parent, the Mom? Can you do what you have accused her of not doing?

Our answer was yes.  We can help the kids. We can do the best for them.  We will do what is right. 

Its a hard concept to grasp and I'm sure we are all going to stumble.  We have to build a relationship of trust and understanding.  Its not going to be easy.  In fact I'm sure its going to be really hard.  At times it is going to suck. Alot. But if it means that I don't have to live my life wondering where my kids are and if they are OK then I will do it.  If it means I can have peace for the kids and they grow up knowing that while really terrible things happened some really good things happened too, it will be worth the discomfort. 

And while I made the commitment I'm still really scared.  And maybe I should be a little scared.  Maybe it will allow me to take things slower and let them come to me rather than my usual technique of push, push, push. 

I learned today that I am a Mom.  And that she is a Mom.  And that there should be room for both of us.  And I made that commitment to our kids today. And she did too.  That deserved a hug.

Grrrr

I did not post yesterday. I had this great idea and started to write about it but it was Wednesday and sure enough after dinner we had kids needing to talk.

Jelly Bean had had a tantrum because she got in trouble for calling her sisters B****** in the car on the way to family therapy. When the transporter asked them discuss the line of questioning was - where did you learn that word. Her answer: My foster parents call me that all the time.

Grrr

Oh yes instead of explaining that that language is unacceptable and you shouldn't call your sisters names they fell for the distraction and I'm sure it will get brought up at the meeting.

Grrr

Then Gabby needed to talk. Her Mom told her she has a surprise for her. From her Dad. And then she asked her to draw him a picture and write him a letter.

Grrr

Over two months ago Mom was told she was not to tell Gabby about the letters her Dad sent. Gabby was too anxious and upset about the issues with her Mom to add the trauma and pain of her Dad in jail for hurting her sister.

Grrr

So the can of feelings about her Mom's promiscuity and having siblings with different fathers and not being able to see her dad and him being a criminal came flooding at us yesterday. When it wasn't supposed to. Hopefully, the clinical director will see today that this woman lacks any impulse control and even when specifically guided will continue to choose to hurt her child.

And LM cried too. About her grades taking a nose dive. Her ability to concentrate is gone.

Grrr

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Little Time To Yourself

I got 2 free passes to a sneak preview of Girl: In Progress staring Eva Mendez tonight. My sister in law went with and we actually had time to grab dinner beforehand. It was nice to have a break.

But the subject matter of mother and daughter made it hard to forget entirely that I'm a Mom of four. And I missed my kids while I was gone. I came home to happy kids and that made me happy.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Minimum Parenting Standards - Monday's Post

I can't figure out Blogger's time zone and I may not have time to write Monday evening so here is Monday's post.

This week we are having another "team" meeting. This time to discuss the "minimum parenting standards" that the kid's Mom has to meet in order to be "good enough" to parent them.

Now I have all kids of issues with this entire exercise. The first being that these kids deserve better than the minimum. The second, that good enough isn't going to cut it with their issues. The hardest part though is being asked to write down a guide to being their parent FOR their parent. Putting my commitment to first reunify a family to the test. It is one thing to suggest ways in which she can be a better parent and to support the goal by not bad mouthing her and encouraging the kids to share their true feelings. It is an entirely different thing to sit down and write a guide for a woman who has yet to grasp the basics after two years.

It was really hard to keep the list positive. It's as neutral as I could make it but the reality is that the kids were harmed by their Mom and are still fearful of her.

Adding to the challenge: I don't really want to help her anymore.

At the beginning I did. I wanted to help her family. I understood she herself is a victim. But as I've watched for 15 months and seen little real progress and heard excuse after excuse as to why she did what she did I just have a tough time believing that she will learn how to be a mother who can care for them. Even one who is just good enough. Especially knowing how scared her children are and how much trauma they have had. I'm worried I won't be able to heal their trauma. How is a woman who hasn't learned about her own trauma going to help her children through theirs? And then the idea that I'm writing for the purpose of moving the children from my home pops in my head and I freak out. It goes against my desire to protect them which a lot of the time is in conflict with my primary purpose in foster care - to reunite them.

But since I'm not the "good enough, minimal" Mom I will write what was asked of me. Because it isn't about me. It's about them. And even though my gut says "get over yourself you aren't going to write anything so important that it will unlock the secret for her, you know she doesn't have the capacity to do this." I still have to do what's right and that means writing all of this down. It means that someday when the kids ask me how I tried to help their family I can answer honestly. That I can look them in the eyes and make them feel my heart when I say I did everything asked of me and then some. Because if I can't put my own feelings aside I'm doing exactly what I wrote she needs to do- put her own issues aside in order to advocate for her kids.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Family Traditions

When my kids came to live with me they didn't have much in the way of family tradition. They were surprised at how seriously we took our traditions. The fact that people would do the same thing over an over was totally foreign to them.

Today we spent the day doing one of our family traditions. Movie Marathon. We make fresh popcorn an spend the day comfy on the couch watching movies.

This is one example but an important one as the kids often speak about past days like this.

What are your family traditions?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Ducks in the Water

Have you ever seen ducks glide across a pond? Graceful. Elegant. Natural. Have you ever seen what they look like underwater? Paddling furiously. Constantly moving.

It's kind of how I feel. I'm floating along making it look easy but underneath I'm furiously paddling to get where I need to go. Right now, at this moment, where I need to go is on vacation. We have less than 20 days before we will be in Walt Disney World enjoying breakfast with Pooh, Tigger, and Piglet.

Treading water is what we've been doing since visits gave resumed. The kids are falling apart. And I feel like falling apart even though for me that's not really an option. I get asked all the time how do I do it. How do I care for 4 traumatized children and work full time and keep it together. We have a great support system and really a key person is my Mom. But also I'm not really keeping it together. I'm paddling furiously until we get to a place with some breathing room. And praying that the people now involved will see how mug farther we need to go in order for the kids to feel safe.

And in less than 20 days I'll be visiting Donald Duck to ask him what his secret is. :)

How Foster Care Has Changed Me

On January 21, 2011 I was grieving.  I was driving on what would have been my Grandmother's 74th birthday to her brother's funeral.  I was walking around in the world going "what the hell?" when we got the call to become Foster Parents. 17 months ago I was a completely different person.  I had NO idea what I was getting into or the impact it would have on my life.  I have been changed in ways that I never expected.  Here are some things I feel are positives:

  1. It takes a lot more to gross me out these days.  I have 4 kids. At some point everyday I am wiping, catching, or cleaning bodily fluids up. Blood, Boogers, Tears and Pee.  Lots and lots of pee. 
  2. I am more laid back.  My husband might argue this point but I think having kids has made me more laid back.  Whatever is more likely to come out of my mouth.  I'm more flexible than I used to be and I try to take a step back now a days.  This is in large part to parenting traumatized kids since you basically take every standard parenting technique and throw it out the window and it take a laid back attitude to be able to roll that way.
  3. I no longer get spazzed out when people come into out home about things being spotless.  I've learned that our house will NEVER be spotless again.  I have 4 kids, a 60 lbs. dog and a husband.  You'll be lucky if you find toilet paper in the guest bathroom.  I have a rotation of people coming in and out.  We are a family and we live here and you are going to see a real house. 
  4. I'm more compassionate.  I have way more compassion, passions, and understanding for people who have had trauma and poor circumstances in their lives. 
  5. I'm more organized. I color coded my kids. Everyone has a cubby for their shoes. "Nuff said.
  6. I laugh more. I genuinely enjoy being with my kids because they are fun, interesting people.  I allow myself more room to be silly.
  7. I'm a better cook.  I have to cook for 6 people and all of their likes and dislikes. I've found things that the family loves to eat and I don't often get complaints.
  8. I am stronger. I have picked myself up when I didn't think I had anymore fight in me because my kids needed me to.  I always want them to look back on this time in their lives and think "Wow. Mom really did do everything she could for us.
  9. I have more tolerance for kids.  Ok when you stop laughing, I'm serious.  No longer am I throwing dirty looks at the people in the burger restaurant for their unruly children.  I now understand that they probably went out because its hard to cook every night for a family and not want a break sometimes.
  10. I've learned to say no. And I'm good at it. I've learned to recognize that I can't do it all for everyone all the time.  I've learned to set limits and boundaries and I'm good at sticking to them.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Being a Foster Parent Improved My: Teamwork

Parenting in general is rewarding. Shaping the future, teaching, molding amazing human beings- it's good stuff. Foster Parenting is similar but sometimes the rewards come in unexpected ways.

For instance, teamwork. As a Foster Parent you are automatically on a new team. And you don't get to pick your teammates. And often while on that team, 1/2 the people sees things one way and the others sees things differently. And the way the system is built some have more say than others.

Sometimes it's really hard to be the Foster Parent on a team of people. You are the one carrying the majority of the work and have the least amount of say. And learning to navigate this improves your ability to work on a team. For me, this has been an asset as it has allowed me to learn new skills that have helped me at work and with my family.

I can divide and conquer projects like never before. I have learned to listen to all sides and I have also learned to pick my battles. I have learned to make better use of resources. I've also learned to diffuse situations by reminding people what the focus of the task we are working on is. I've also learned to bite my lip as often the person I think has the worst idea or strategy in the group will reveal themselves.

I've also learned to forgive teammates. I'd want the slate wiped clean for myself sometimes. This is important in Foster Parenting because often you are stuck with people that irritate you. Somethings are not worth hanging on to. The caseworker and I had such a conversation tonight. I told her she's not being supportive or concerned about the kids and she shared that she's overwhelmed.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

It takes a village....

I don't often blog about my faith or God.  I feel other people write theirs much more eloquently than I could at the moment.  I'm in the middle of a change in my views on organized religion and I prefer to keep that to myself.  That being said when I feel something speak to me I will share. 

My Grandfather is a deeply religious man.  I can remember being little and watching him pray the Rosary in a corner chair in the middle of the afternoon.  When I was in college and would call him for advice he would always tell me to pray about it.

When I got sick and was in the midst of my deep, dark hole of depression he sent me a subscription to The Daily Word.  Its a prayer book of daily meditations and scripture.  It has been an amazing source of support through the years.

Yesterday as I was pondering what topic to write about today (while waiting for some Panda Panda to be ready (Mr. Mohawk's name for Panda Express)) I pulled my Daily Word out of my purse.  This was the entry for today:

Daily Word
 
Thursday, May 03, 2012
 
Pray for Others
I reach out in prayer to support and encourage others.
It has been said that "it takes a village to raise a child." We all benefit when we assist and support one another. I am fulfilled as I give from my heart the gifts of my time, talent and treasure, and as I support others through the power of affirmative prayer. When I pray for others, I reach out in faith and enfold them in love.
We are one in Spirit with each other, for we are all children of God. As I pray for others, I tap into our spiritual connection that joins us heart and mind. Through prayer, I am part of a "village" of people who spiritually support one another. Every time I pray, every time I give my love and encouragement, I am more aware of the living Christ Presence within us all.
 
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.--John 15:12
 
So tonight I pray for those of you making up our village.  Thank you for your supportive comments and emails. For your positive thoughts and for checking in on us.  I pray that you are supportive in your village and with your children.
 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Things My Foster Kids Say Are Positive

My kids know I blog. They know I blog about our lives and my feelings. They know it's a way for us to help others so I decided to share with them this challenge. This morning I asked them if there were any good things the have done or learned since becoming foster kids.

Gabby:
- Going on lots of trips.

Jelly Bean:
- Learning not to hit each other.

Mr. Mohawk:
- When you are sad knowing how to take deep breath-es. (which he demonstrated)
- Being good in sch-ool.

Little Mama:
- Learning how to talk to each other.

May Day

May is Foster Care Awareness Month.  I was not aware until the sweet Sophie at Accepted posted this link to Jess's blog.  Sophie was inspired to write daily.  Jess posted a challenge to share your journey.  I'm jumping on board too.  The reason I write this blog is to help others and share our struggles and triumphs.

I care deeply that the purpose and needs of foster care and foster children are discussed.  I love the idea of dispelling the long held ideas that foster children are bad and that foster parents are only in it for the money. The system is majorly broken and the more people who are aware the more people who can fight to get it fixed. A month of awareness is not enough but I'll take it.

I'm also going to take the challenge of writing something daily.  And although I was super excited I've gained two additional followers this week and received email questions from readers, I am mainly going to write for me.  At least initially.  I need to connect with the positives as right now the negatives are really hard to ignore.  I write very honestly about our struggles and its easy to get stuck and focus on those because they contribute the major stress I'm feeling right now.

Tonight I will share some things my foster children have said/done recently that I see as positives.

 - Gabby told the CASA worker she wanted to study history....in college.  She did not know what college was prior to living with me.
 - Gabby told her therapist tonight that "some things SHOULD be about me".  When I first met her she could not form a declarative sentence.
 - Jelly Bean told her therapist that a time she recently felt loved was during a tantrum when I was holding her telling her she was safe and loved.
 - Mr. Mohawk teased me and made the whole family laugh at dinner last night.  When he moved in I needed Jelly Bean to interpret I couldn't understand a word the kid said.
 - Little Mama pulled her hardest subject up to a B last quarter.  The child who had a ton of missing assignments actually learned how to study.  Even though she is behind in comprehension she is still keeping up with her peers.


Readers please help me with this challenge.  Please show some love and follow me so I know I have an audience. Please send comments or emails with topics or questions.  Tell me what would help you understand or be able to say yes to foster parenting.